Unlike ChatGPT, which has already reached the public, China’s AI chatbots are yet to do so.

China has yet to experience the ChatGPT craze that swept the nation more than two months ago, as no similar AI-based product has reached the general population. While Baidu, Alibaba, and other companies have released alternatives, they have only limited access with waitlists or are restricted to business partners.

ChatGPT, created by U.S.-based OpenAI, reached an estimated 100 million monthly active users two months after its launch in November. However, it remains unavailable in China, where access to Twitter, Facebook, and Google is banned through the government’s internet firewall. Despite this, the Chinese press and social media frequently talk about ChatGPT and AI technology. Some people have even tried to buy overseas ChatGPT accounts on Chinese e-commerce sites.

Domestic companies have rushed to release and test alternative products, with big data and machine learning experience being integral to the technology behind ChatGPT. However, publicly available figures suggest that similar AI products in China are not as widely available.

Alibaba Cloud received more than 200,000 requests from businesses to test the company’s version of ChatGPT-style tech, called Tongyi Qianwen, after it was announced on April 11. Kunlun Tech, one of Alibaba’s business partners, launched the Tiangong on April 17, which is currently invite-only. Kunlun claims that Tiangong is the only chatbot in China with training metrics at the level of ChatGPT.

It is not clear how many people have gained access to Baidu’s Ernie bot. Within a week after its launch on March 16, the chatbot had more than 1.2 million people on a waiting list, and the company stopped disclosing numbers within a few days. When CNBC attempted to sign up for Ernie bot in March, the Baidu system required a mainland Chinese phone number and local ID to use the chatbot. More apps in China now require ID verification or strongly encourage it.

Regulatory uncertainty lingers while Beijing remains in a comment period for its generative AI draft rules. Authorities have not announced when a final version of the rules would take effect. Outside China, the U.S. and Europe have generally been lax on ChatGPT, except for Italy, which this month banned the chatbot until OpenAI addresses privacy issues.

Companies in China will face the challenge of obtaining the most advanced chips for training AI models, as the U.S. announced stringent export bans aimed at restricting China’s access to high-end semiconductors in October. A model at the level of OpenAI’s GPT-3 requires at least 1,000 Nvidia A100 graphics processing units to complete one 23-day round of training.

The demand for AI GPUs in China is expected to grow by more than 40% this year, and companies anticipate that they will need licenses to operate ChatGPT-like tech and are preparing for applications.